What’s the best part about Christmas? Is it the presents? Getting to see family? No way, it’s all about the food. Here’s my guide to Christmas dinner – the most important part about the holidays.
I’ll be splitting this guide into several parts. The starters, which isn’t that important unless you’re having a party or want to be extra fancy. The main course is the star of the show, but it doesn’t have to be turkey. Sides are just as important as the main course. Then there’s the dessert, the part to really wow everyone.
Starters are very optional for Christmas. You’re having such a big dinner and there’s so much to think about that it seems almost silly to add an extra course in. That being said, having nibbles available is a great way to get everyone quiet before hand. I’ve included in this section some recipes that will also be great if you’re hosting a Christmas party.
Prawn & Crab lettuce cups – Prawn cocktail is a starter/party classic. The lettuce cups are a nice way of keeping them bitesized and also minimising carbs so everyone doesn’t get too full too quickly.
Mushroom Soufflé – Before you start panicking at the word soufflé, I want to say this recipe can be made two days in advance and chilled in the fridge. This makes them both impressive and efficient. Perfect for any vegetarians.
Figs with Bacon and Chilli – This recipe is sweet, sticky and covered in bacon and chilli. Basically a perfect appetiser that is packed full of flavour in a bite sized chunk.
The main course is the part with the big turkey and all the trimmings. Like on Thanksgiving, it’s the moment of magic. Glistening turkey, golden roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts… Except that in my family we don’t even do turkey. We always have goose, with two kind of stuffings on the inside. There are so many meat options out there, maybe it’s time to put down the turkey and go for something more exciting.
We also have a few vegetarians in my family. Most of the time we’ll cook up a nut roast for their main course. I often make extra because I love nut roast and want some for myself. There are so many vegetarian options for Christmas dinner since you’re not constrained by tradition in anyway. Some options will definitely leave meat eaters jealous.
Roast Pork Crown – Roast pork crowns are as impressive as you can get. They literally look like a crown. You know how a rack of lamb looks amazing? This is like that but even better. It will never fail as a centre piece for the table and it packs a lot of flavour. Since most people have never seen one, I’ve included a youtube video that shows how to make a simple but tasty one. The linked recipe is slightly different though.
Roast Goose – My family have always been in the strong belief that you can’t get more flavour in a bird than goose. I have to agree. If you’re worried about not having enough meat for your dinner if you don’t use a turkey, then worry no more. A goose is huge. This recipe by Gordon Ramsey is really simple and really easy to use. On top of that, I like to put stuffing inside the cavity of the goose.
Venison Wellington – Wellington is a classic British dish that is a wonderful event for smaller groups. If you’re having a small Christmas with just one or two other people, then this is a great dish to go for. Venison has a lovely game-y taste, and goes well with festive sides.
— Kate Veggie Desserts (@veggie_desserts) December 7, 2016
— Lauren Caris (@Lauren_Caris) December 4, 2016
Roast potatoes – I’ve had some pretty intense debates with my friends on how to make the best roast potatoes. Everyone seems to have their own special tricks to making the best roast potatoes ever. This Food Lab video gets it right though. If you want to be fancy like my mum, she likes to quickly deep fry the potatoes a bit after roasting if they’re not up to her crunchy standard. If this sounds excessive to you, just keep in mind if you ever order “triple cooked” chips or roasts at a restaurant, that’s essentially what she’s doing!
There are so many different sides that you can make, I don’t think you can really go wrong. Instead of giving you them all I’m going to instead just write a list of some of my favourite as inspiration and you can go look for fun recipes yourself. Mix and match, just remember you want an interesting combination of flavours and textures in your sides.
- Stuffing – We have around 3 types during Christmas, look out for chestnuts, or sausage meat stuffings!
- Glazed carrots – Honey glazed or maple glazed are best.
- Green vegetables – Broccoli, runner beans, and asparagus all go really well with roasted almonds for a nutty twist.
- Roast parsnips or other root vegetable – like the carrots these can be glazed. I find roasted parsnips to be plenty sweet by themselves though.
- Red cabbage – This adds a new colour to your mix, and can be a nice touch of sour.
- Sausages – Yes, you can have more meat stuff in your sides
- Gravy – I don’t know if this counts as a side, but you need enough to drown your food in, in my opinion. No drizzle for me, I’d happily drink gravy from a mug.
- Brussels Sprouts – I hated these for so long until I realised nearly everyone over cooks them. If you overcook them, please throw them out. Properly done sprouts however are heaven. Also add almonds to these.
- Yorkshire pudding – For the non British, go find a youtube video and make them. Don’t question it, just do it. Thank me later.
- Bread and onion sauce – This reminds me a lot of American country gravy, only more creamy and less chunky. It’s just a great, subtle sauce to go with everything. My mum does just onion sauce with sage and skips the bread to be healthier.
- Cauliflower cheese – Any excuse to add a melted cheese dish to the table
- Apple Sauce – normally reserved for when cooking pork, my family makes it for any roast meal. We just love it. Cooking apples give you a mushy sour sauce, eating apples gives you firm sweet sauce. I like to make both sauces to have. For the eating apples, you’ll need to blend them or else they won’t be mushy.
- Cranberry sauce – another hit of sweet and sour – make it exotic by adding in pomegranates.
In my family I’m kind of known for making desserts. It’s not because it’s my favourite course. It’s because I love seeing everyone react to dessert. Everyone smiles when it’s dessert time. Children get excited for it. It’s the final indulgence to a fantastic meal. I can’t miss it out in my guide to Christmas dinner!
Gingerbread Bûche de Noël – Don’t get worried by the word Bûche de Noël because it’s just a fancy french way of saying Yule log. Yule logs are always a great Christmas dessert, but you can spice things up by making this gingerbread variation which still keeps the festive theme.
Marshmallow Cranberry Cheesecake – I’ve really grown to enjoy cheesecake over these last few years. A great thing about cheesecake is it can be made in advance. This recipe is based on more European methods that don’t require baking.
Millionaire’s Ice-cream bomb – This dessert really stands out. It just looks amazing. Of course, Malteasers are hard to find outside of Europe I think, but you can always use a different chocolate. Basically you’ll need something ball shaped and ideally crunchy.
Sticky Toffee Pudding – If you have any room left, then you can’t go wrong with sticky toffee pudding. This is rich, heavy and really unhealthy. However it’s super sweet and frankly delicious.